Red Sox, Napoli working to resolve holdup

Red Sox, Napoli working to resolve holdup

Red Sox, Napoli working to resolve holdup
BOSTON -- Shane Victorino put on his Red Sox jersey Thursday at Fenway Park. There was no word as to when another free agent, first baseman Mike Napoli, might be able to do the same.

Napoli and the Red Sox agreed to terms a day before the Sox did with Victorino, but there's been at least one snag in closing the deal. General manager Ben Cherington acknowledged the situation Thursday, but he did not detail the specific holdup.

"It's just a situation where we're working through some things in regards to another player," Cherington said. "And until, as has been our policy, until every sort of aspect of the agreement's resolved, we're not in a position to comment on it publicly."

Like Victorino, Napoli agreed to three years and $39 million. But deals aren't finalized once a dollar figure is settled on. Napoli's physical could have revealed a condition that the team feels is risky enough to require contract language addressing it. In that scenario, the specifics of the language -- or from Napoli's perspective, the belief that there need be any language at all -- could be an obstacle.

Cherington acknowledged a physical was part of the endgame, but nonetheless withheld a pinpoint explanation.

"I don't want to comment specifically," Cherington said. "Every time we sign a free agent, any sort of guaranteed deal, there's a number of things you have to come to agreement on and get resolved. Some of it's contract language and some of it's terms and money, and etc. And then there's a physical. Until all these things are done and there's all of them agreed upon, [I] just can't comment on it."

Outside of 140 games played in 2010, Napoli has never reached 115 games played in seven seasons. Part of that was a playing time matter in his time with the Angels from 2006-10, but part of that also stemmed from ailments like a left quad strain. That sent him to the disabled list each of the past two seasons with the Rangers.

The Sox are still hopeful they'll reach a resolution. Cherington said twice on Thursday there is no timetable, and he didn't give an indication when asked if it looks more like a matter of days or weeks.

"All I can say, we continue to talk and there's that consistent dialogue, and we'll continue to do that," Cherington said. "[We'll] work to resolve the issues that are outstanding."

Cherington said broadly he still looks to improve the team while the Napoli matter is sorted, but stopped short of saying he's diving back into the first-base market.

Napoli's provides a bat the Sox need at first base, with a combined 54 home runs the past two regular seasons and a career .306 average at Fenway Park in the regular season.

"We're still certainly looking to improve the team, and we're still working hard on a number of fronts to be able to do that," Cherington said. "Until something's done, we got to continue to work to improve the team, in different ways, different parts of the roster."

Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.